Gwendolyn Frazier and her husband worked hard all their lives and paid off the mortgage on their Elyria home. Her husband took out a consolidation loan with OneMain Financial, but they paid their bills.
Her husband passed away in 2013. After that, when mail came addressed to him, she marked it “deceased” and sent it back – including mail from
CitiFinancial. She had no business with CitiFinancial and thought it was junk mail. She didn’t know OneMain was connected to
CitiFinancial, until the
bank sent a certified letter with foreclosure papers.
“It was such a burden,” she recalls. “I’m not somebody who’s sitting around not making my payments. ”
She called and called and called for months, but couldn’t get any information about how to pay the loan. The home went into foreclosure in 2014 and in a phone trial, the magistrate told her she was “out of luck” because she was not named on the loan.
Ms. Frazier sought help from Legal Aid. Volunteer attorney Kathleen Amerkhanian of Kryszak & Associates agreed to take the case pro bono. Legal Aid attorney Marley Eiger coached volunteer Amerkhanian on new Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) rules that require the bank to not only to accept payments from the “successor-in-interest” but also to provide information about assumptions and modification options to the loan.
“Ms. Frazier needed a lawyer to frame the case as a legal issue and provide a basis for why they should look at loss mitigation,” says Ms. Amerkhanian. “By couching it in the correct terms, the court took notice.” Ms. Amerkhanian got the case out of foreclosure. In mediation, she pointed out that the bank was not in compliance with federal CFPB regulations. She helped Ms. Frazier compile all the documentation needed – until finally the bank offered an affordable plan.
Thanks to her volunteer lawyer, the foreclosure was dismissed early in 2016.
“The ability to really make an impact on somebody who desperately needs your help is very rewarding,” says Ms. Amerkhanian. When you take a case from Legal Aid, there is a lot of support. Marley Eiger provided a lot of information and lent her expertise, and that was invaluable.”
“The lender was ignorant of the law, indifferent to the homeowner’s compelling hardship and tried to sabotage her,” says Legal Aid attorney Marley Eiger. “Not one thing about this case was easy or routine, but Kathleen was very persistent.”
Thanks to Legal Aid, Ms. Frazier’s home is safe and she can enjo y her hobbies of cooking and volunteering at her church. And, most importantly - she can care for her family in her home without worry.
Legal Aid’s work to ensure shelter in Lorain County is supported by the Nord Family Foundation and the Community
Foundation of Lorain County.